ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Selected Poems from

Nia: Haiku, Sonnets, Sun Songs

By neo-griot Kalamu ya Salaam




Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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We Are Achievers


by Kalamu ya Salaam


We are achievers, strivers, climbers, those who arrive

               despite delays, obstacles and intentional roadblocks

               throw up on the diverse paths we trod

               in this period when we have to be twice as good

              just to get half as far we leap over the top

              regardless of how high they raise the bar


We are achievers, strivers, climbers, those who march

              forward into the future propelled

              by the fuel of historic accomplishments

              we stand astride the shoulders

              of all who have gone nobly before

              we follow in the footprints of past pioneers

              those who set standards of excellence

              that we valiantly match and attempt to exceed


We are achievers, strivers, climbers, those who are intelligent

               we grasp and fully understand all the ways of the world

               we can learn any language humans speak

               we can master any technology humans create

               we can control the international flow of ideas and



We are achievers, strivers, climbers, those who reach

               not just for the stars

               but for the sun, moon and the whole sky too

               we know this world can be ours

               as we hold the history of tomorrow

               in our palms and massage the clay of today

               into resplendent statutes and monuments

               marked by the impress of our fingerprints


We are achievers, strivers, climbers, those who visit the summits

               regardless of the roughness of the mountain

               we have prepared ourselves to climb

               despite hurricanes and hard times

               we have disciplined ourselves to keep on keeping on

               no matter who considers us ugly

               we have retained our people's fundamental beauty


We are achievers, strivers, climbers, creators and innovators

               we will find a way forward or make one

               this world will be better and more beautiful

               as a result of our passing through

               we envision a galaxy of excellence

               as we sow seeds of hard work

               so that we can reap gardens of peace and prosperity

               that we are young is obvious

               that we are gifted is important

               that we are Black is a reality

               of which we will always be proud


We are achievers, strivers, climbers, creators and innovators

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 14 February 2012




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